Elektra: A Girl Who Loved the Color Red
by Kaya Oakes

It seemed to bleed you, every night
those walks past the chapel, just so far apart
that we meant nothing. Your back
against mine told me nothing but the color gray –

and gripping that I wondered if it hurt
to turn toward another voice
another round of questioning.

As a girl, I loved my parents well enough
or at least they taught me tolerance.
But when they died, I loved them better;
so well that those tanks rolling into town

could never hurt me in the presence of my father's ash.
I would bend to stranger's shoes
and ask them if their laces meeting would bring back
that orb of suffocation, family.

Or better yet, bring back your sad and sightless eyes
so black I lost their center.


Kaya Oakes' collection of poetry, Telegraph, received the Transcontinental Poetry Prize from Pavement Saw Press and is being published in 2007. Born and raised in Oakland, she teaches writing at UC Berkeley; her father Leo '60, was a longtime SMC administrator. Kaya received her B.A. in '93 and MFA in '97 from Saint Mary's College. Her website is http://www.oakestown.org.